Thursday, June 21, 2018

SAVE THE DATE: Muerte en Bolivia: Field trip to La Paz to Learn about Bolivia's Death Culture, Folklore, and Sacred Coca Leaf with a Native Guide!

This November, we hope you'll join Morbid Anatomy for a very special seven day trip to La Paz, Bolivia where, with a native guide, we'll explore the country's fascinating history, folklore, and death-related traditions, a unique blend of ancient native beliefs and Spanish Catholicism. We'll also learn the storied history of--and have ample opportunities to sample--the coca leaf, sacred plant of the Andes.

We'll visit La Paz's central cemetery for Festival of the Skulls (Fiesta de los Ñatitas), in which human skulls are given offerings of coca leaves, cigarettes and flower petals; the famed witches market, with shops selling dried llama fetuses to bless new constructions, magical charms, and colorful figurines of devils and skeleton saints; and the coca leaf market. Other highlights will include visits to La Paz's Museo de la Coca, the Unesco World Heritage site of the pre-Columbian ruins of Tiwanaku, a blessing of the cars at Lake Titicaca's Copacabana, a visit to the tropical Afro Bolivian town of Coroico, Cholita wrestling, gorgeous colonial churches and convents, and museums packed with astounding treasures. There will also be opportunities to eat native foods, explore markets, and learn the ancient Andean art of coca leaf consumption. Along the way, we'll learn from our knowledgeable tour guide about the folklore and beliefs of this unique culture, past and present. 

More soon; stay tuned! 

Images, top to bottom: Getty Images; Sky News; LatinoFiesta

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New Book on the Art, History and Symbolism of The Tarot by Morbid Anatomy and Strange Attractor Press!

We at Morbid Anatomy are delighted to announce a new project with our good friend Mark Pilkington at Strange Attractor Press: a new illustrated book about the art and history of the tarot. We are just launching a campaign via Unbound in order to help us raise the funds we need to create it. Awards range from a pre-order of the book to include signed, limited edition hardback versions of the book, tarot readings and classes, custom totes, and much more! You can find out more about the book below; you can find out more about our fundraising campaign– and pre-order a copy of the book! – by clicking here. Thanks so much for your interest and support!

Stars, Fools and Lovers will explore the art, history and symbolism of the tarot through dozens of antique and forgotten cards, from the well-known Rider Waite Smith deck to Austin Osman Spare's recently discovered Major Arcana, as well as reinterpretations by contemporary artists.

The tarot's origins stretch back to ancient Egypt but the cards as we know them today have their roots in 18th century Europe as playing cards. Since then, the seventy-eight card deck has become one of the most popular visual oracles of all time, and one of the most adaptable as well. Along the way it has inspired seekers, occultists, artists, film makers, writers, pop stars and fashion designers -- its influence can be seen in the work of the Surrealists as well as the TV series Twin Peaks.

Perhaps the reason for this is because the tarot has an uncanny ability to put us in touch with truths of which we are not consciously aware. The tarot, with its intuitive symbology, provides a bridge to our own unconscious. Or, as some believe, it provides access to invisible worlds beyond our understanding. Regardless of your beliefs and approach, our new book Stars, Fools and Lovers will provide you with the tools you need – along with a wealth of visual inspiration – to begin your own exploration of its complex and rich world.

Stars, Fools and Lovers will contain an array of cards drawn from original and forgotten decks as well as creative reimaginings by contemporary artists. Alongside these images, the book will explore how, over centuries of use, the tarot’s archetypal imagery has evolved and the cards' meanings have shifted. It will investigate the hidden history and many interpretations of the Major Arcana, deciphering the archetypes behind each figure and plumbing their complex histories, and trace the ways in which artists and illustrators from around the world have reinterpreted the Arcanas according to their cultural backgrounds and the problems they faced.

This book includes a history of the tarot and its use, as well as instructions on how to read the cards intuitively, to follow its traditions without dogma and suggests ways to experiment with the cards to find inspiration and enlightenment. The book will also present the thoughts of a variety of professional tarot readers about the pleasures and pitfalls of practical cartomancy.

Written and collected by Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein and Laetitia Barbier – herself a professional tarot reader – and Strange Attractor Press's Mark Pilkington, this book is equal parts art book, how-to, history, and a meditation on tarot symbolism and its uses.

Biographies of the authors:

Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based artist, writer and the founder of Morbid Anatomy. She is the editor of Death: A Graveside Companion (2017), author of The Anatomical Venus (2016) and co-author of Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy (2014).

After studying art history at the Sorbonne in Paris, Laetitia Barbier became the head librarian of Morbid Anatomy and is a professional tarot reader in New York.

Mark Pilkington is the founder of the London-based Strange Attractor Press and the editor of its irregular Journal. He is the author of Mirage Men (2010) and Far Out: 101 Strange Tales from Science's Outer Edge (2007). He has written on music, art, film, cultural history and esoterica for publications including The Guardian, Frieze, Fortean Times, Boing Boing, The Wire, Sight and Sound, and has contributed to numerous anthologies.

Again, you can make a pledge or pre-order a copy of the book here. Thanks so much for your interest and support!